Sikhosiphi “Bazooka” Rhadebe, chairperson of the Amadiba Crisis Committee and a leading campaigner against the Australian-owned Xolobeni mineral sands mine in South Africa was shot dead in his home on March 22.
Below is a statement signed by 82 civil society organisations condemning his assassination and asking for international support to ensure his murderers are brought to justice. A full list of signatories can be found at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal. You can add your name to an online petition against the mine.
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We are shocked and outraged to learn of the brutal murder of the chairperson of Amadiba Crisis Committee, Sikhosiphi Bazooka Rhadebe. As chair of the ACC, Bazooka Rhadebe was helping lead the struggle of Amadiba residents on the Wild Coast in opposing open-cast titanium mining by the Australian mining company MRC.
According to Amadiba Crisis Committee: “The hitmen came in a white Polo with a rotating blue lamp on the roof. Two men knocked at the door saying they were the police. Mr Rhadebe was shot with eight bullets in the head.”
This is not the first case of intimidation or violence against those who have opposed mining in the area.
Our hearts go out to Bazooka's family and community.
The assassination of Bazooka is a painful reminder that from the aba Hlali base Mjondolo to the Helen Suzman Foundation, there is an existing pattern of criminal attacks on civil society formations, especially those in townships, informal settlements and rural areas.
For years, poor people's movements in different parts of the country have experienced regular harassment, intimidation, detention and violence against their members. It is worst felt when the media are far away and the victims are poor, black or rural, and when major industries stand to make billions in profit.
We cannot afford to remain silent in the face of any of these attacks. Every one of them is an attack on democracy itself.
1. We call for the speedy arrest and successful prosecution of the killers of comrade Bazooka.
2. We further call on the Human Rights Commission to investigate the systematic process of intimidation that has been orchestrated against those who have stood up against MRC and its lackeys in the area.
3. We demand that the Minister of Mineral Resources suspends all mining applications until there has been a full and independent investigation of Rhadebe's murder!
4. We demand protection for all members of the Amadiba Crisis Committee and their families!
5. We call on all progressive forces to stand up in defence of democracy. End the attacks on our activists and movements!
We will not be bullied and intend to speak out even more strongly than before. The key thing when civil society is being intimidated is to show no fear.
The Amadiba Crisis Committee urgently requires funds to assist Bazooka's family and for continuing the struggle and protecting activists in this dangerous moment. You can make donations to the following bank account (please include the reference as 'Bazooka Cause'): Sustaining the Wild Coast. First National Bank. Randburg. Acc no: 62157997639. Code: 254005. Swift: FIRNZAJJ.
Demands to stop the mining right application process and to protect anti-mining activists and communities can be sent to: Minister of Mineral Resources Mosebenzi Zwane. Ph: 012 444 3999. Email: Queen.Poolo@dmr.gov.za; Deputy Minister of Mineral Resources Godfrey Oliphant. Ph: 012 444 3956. Email: Kefilwe.Chibogo@dmr.gov.za; Acting Director-General, Department of Mineral Resources, David Msiza. Ph: 012 444 3000. Email: email@example.com or Nwabisa.Qwanyashe@dmr.gov.za or Khayalethu.Matrose@dmr.gov.za.
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